I have a client that uses ACT! and they brought me in to consult with them.
One of the issues they were trying to rectify was the fact that their salespeople were all using the software differently. They asked me to help them centralize the data and simplify ACT! for their staff.
When I work with my client’s one of the first things I ask them to do is to forget about ACT!. Quite often they get so caught up in the software that they lose site of their goals. In many cases they don’t have clear cut goals or a simple plan. My experience has been that you need clear cut goals to make ACT! work effectively.
Discussing the matter, my client’s new goals were twofold: they needed to get a handle on their sales representatives ACT! databases and they wanted to use that data to increase their marketing efforts.
Most of the salespeople were using Outlook to track and communicate with their current clients and the move to ACT! was awkward because they were ingrained with the way they do things. Having stated that, I found that many of the reps were established and successful, and really didn’t feel the need to embrace the software. I can fully appreciate their concerns; if it isn’t broke.
On another note, I eventually learned that all the sales reps were commission based and they were very protective of their data; therefore, they were hesitant to share it with the owners of the business.
Outlook is great email program but a poor contact manager. When I asked the reps that used Outlook as their primary contact manager if they could produce a list of all of their clients and prospects, the answer was “sort of” in most cases. And they surely would have to dig for the information and it would take time.
It became obvious to me that their sales reps were successful working with about 20 percent of their client base while 80 percent was unaccounted for. What I mean by that is that 80 percent of their clients were not easily reached.
I tried to convince the sales representatives that the main reason to use ACT! was to be able to quickly access the 80 percent of clients they were not actively pursuing. If we could get those contacts into a centralized database, and have a marketing assistant follow-up with them, the salespeople and the company had everything to gain, because they weren’t currently pursuing these fantastic prospects (their existing clients) and the worse thing that could happen is a new sale.
Unfortunately, with 20-20 hindsight, this project was destined to fail because of the attitudes of the company and a commissioned sales staff. Don’t get me wrong, the company was and is successful and their salespeople appear to be successful, so I’m not condemning the way they work. It’s just the way they operate. The question in my mind and hopefully theirs is this: how much more successful could they be if they had organized ACT! (in the beginning) in a way that was conducive to helping their sales staff, not intruding on them? I recognize this is easier said than done.
I spoke to my client recently and they told me they are evaluating Salesforce CRM. I believe they need to forget about the software and put into place a plan for new salespeople that will help centralize customer and prospect data. Once they do that, the software will help them, regardless of what they choose.
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